It's a given that when you breed a Maltese with a toy or miniature poodle you're going to end up with one cute little dog who requires regular grooming. Other characteristics can be a bit of a guess since every dog is unique. Based on his parents, chances are your maltipoo will be an intelligent, playful little companion who enjoys your company.
Characteristics of a Maltipoo
The Maltese is a little dog, standing between 9 and 10 inches tall and weighing between 4 and 7 pounds. A toy poodle is similar in size, while his relative the the miniature poodle reaches up to 15 inches and 12 to 18 pounds. Depending on how you mix it up, the maltipoo will stand up to 14 inches tall and weigh between 5 and 15 pounds. Where your little dog ends up on the scale will depend on what type of poodle is used in the mix and which dog's genes are dominant.
Both the poodle and the Maltese have long coats requiring regular grooming. Plan on brushing your maltipoo daily to keep him from developing tangles and mats in his fur. If his coat is the curlier poodle type, he'll need professional grooming every four to six weeks.
Both the Maltese and poodles are considered to be intelligent dogs, so odds are your maltipoo will be a smart little dog, too. This crossbreed tends to be playful and affectionate, though his energy level may vary according to which breed's genes dominate -- poodles typically have a higher energy level than Maltese. The maltipoo's barking tendencies can make for a great watch dog, though his size won't offer much in the way of protection. The maltipoo's small size can make for challenging living with young children who don't understand the fragility of a small dog. He does make a great apartment pup, however.
A maltipoo typically has a 10 to 15 year life span. Every breed of dog is prone to health risks, though just because a breed is vulnerable to a condition does not mean a dog will develop the condition. The Maltese is generally a healthy dog, though he has some minor health concerns including hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar; the eyelid abnormality entropion; patellar luxation, or misaligned or dislocating knees; and open fontanel, a soft spot at the top of the head during the first 6 months.
The toy and miniature poodles are vulnerable to patellar luxation, and Legg-Perthes, a degeneration of the top of the femur bone, as well as the eye conditions cataracts and entropion. Working with a reputable breeder who can verify the health of parents and grandparents minimizes the chance your maltipoo will develop inherited conditions. A breeder should be able to prove that dogs used for breeding have been screened for genetic defects and are healthy for breeding.
Combining the maltipoo's charming personality with his small size can result in a dog who will often do as he pleases, despite what his owner wants. Training a maltipoo is critical so he understands how to be a good family member. Positive reinforcement to reward him with treats and praise will reign in his tendency to make mischief.